Post-Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP)


PEP, or post-exposure prophylaxis, is a combination of medications that an HIV-negative person takes for 28 days AFTER a possible exposure to HIV if they are not on PrEP or have missed taking PrEP as prescribed. PEP is more effective the sooner it’s started, and must be started within 72 hours of the exposure. 

Within the past 72 hours, have you been exposed to the pre-semen (pre-cum), semen (cum), vaginal fluid, rectal fluid, or blood from someone with an unknown HIV status, or someone who has HIV and you don't know if they are "undetectable"? If so, you may benefit from PEP. 

A doctor or other clinician must prescribe PEP. During regular office hours, ask your doctor or go to a sexual health clinic. During off hours, go to an urgent care or emergency room. Most pharmacies can fill the prescription, but consider a backup pharmacy just in case.

For more information, download: PEP info sheet.

If the clinician doesn’t know about PEP, refer them to the federal PEP Guidelines or the national PEPline. The national PEPline is available to clinicians who need guidance on how to prescribe PEP. 

Most insurance covers the cost, and patient assistance programs are available to those who are un-insured or under-insured.

PEP 101 - Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

PrEP vs. PEP - AIDSinfo